George Washington Flowers
DUKE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
ESTABLISHED BY THE
1753 to 1925
INCLUDING ADDRESS DELIVERED BY
REV, S. C- ALEXANDER
At the Centennial Celebration
Held on October 17, 1885.
Rev, Thomas W, Lingle, Ph.D.
Professor of Modern Languages
BRADY PRINTING COMPANY
STATESVILLE, N. C.
•a- 8 5? i -7 g c
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 5
Rev. W. M. Walsh, while pastor of Thyatira church near-
ly twenty years ago, was appealed to by many in the congrega-
tion, to prepare a historical sketch of the church from 1855 to
the present time. The idea was to supplement and bring
down to date the work prepared by Rev. S. C. Alexander in
connection with the celebration of the centennial of the church.
Mr. Walsh set himself to the task as opportunity presented it-
self. He gathered bits of information from the older mem-
bers of his congregation the most of whom have since then
passed away. He conducted some correspondence with per-
sons residing at a distance, and read such printed and writ-
ten matter as was available. His idea was to follow the plan
of the Alexander sketch, confining himself largely to some
account of the pastors and elders. He made a start at the
actual writing, to the extent of sketching the pastors for a
period of twenty years or more following the year 1855. We
have incorporated in this paper the information gathered by
Mr. Walsh, and even some of his language, for all of which
we hereby make due acknowledgment.
For the information contained in all the rest of this pa-
per we have had to look to other sources. We have broadened
the original plan and have endeavored to present a far more
complete picture of the life of the church than was at first
contemplated. We have enjoyed the study, with the many
happy memories of our early years, that have been vividly
recalled. Our highest hope is that we have permanently
preserved some facts relating to the church, that might other-
wise have been lost in a few more years, and that this humble
effort may furnish at least some slight pleasure and inspir-
tion to all who love the name of the venerable church and who
do us the honor to read the story that we have endeavored
T. W. L.
Delivered at the
of Thyatira Church,
Rowan County, N. C.
October 17, 1855
By REV. S. C. ALEXANDER, Pastor
]BOUT one hundred years ago, the gos-
pel trumpet was first sounded on this
sacred spot. And, thanks be to God,
its notes have greeted our ears and
cheered our hearts. Often have these
hills and valleys round about echoed
the high praises of Jehovah. Often
during that long period have our fath-
ers had their " times of refreshing
from the presence of the Lord. ' ' But they have gone to their
graves and we will not deplore them.
"We have met today for the purpose of celebrating no
small event — for the purpose of celebrating the goodness of
God manifested toward us and our fathers for the space of a
hundred years. Generation after generation has passed away,
but Thyatira yet stands; because God has written his name
here. It is a vine planted by his own right hand, therefore
He has watered it, and made it to flourish and send forth many
branches, to bless and prosper a large community.
We propose on this occasion, to give a brief historical
sketch of the Ministers and Elders of this church, and also to
glance at the times of her mourning and rejoicing.
The name of the first minister of Thyatira is not certainly
8 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
known. The old deed of the church lot, given on the 1st of.
January, 1753, by John Linn, to the congregation, informs us
that the gospel has been preached here earlier than has gen-
erally been supposed. It specifies the congregation "belong-
ing to the lower meeting house between the Yadkin and Ca-
tawba Rivers adhering to a minister licensed by a Presbytery
belonging to the Synod of Philadelphia." Neither the name
of the Presbytery nor minister is given. It is probable he
was a missionary who preached here only occasionally. In this
same year of 1753, "two missionaries were sent by direction
of Synod, to visit Virginia and North Carolina — Mr. Mc-
Mordie and Mr. Donaldson." No mention is made in the
records of the settlements they were to visit, except they were
to "show special regard" to the vacancies of this State be-
tween the Yadkin and Catawba ; the very portion in which
we live. Possibly our first minister was McMordie or Donald-
son. This was nearly one hundred and three years ago.
Although the name of the servant of the Lord who first
proclaimed the gospel here may be forgotten, and the places
on earth that knew him once will know him no more forever,
yet his work has stood for more than a century, and we trust
will stand to bless generations yet unborn.
The name of Hugh McAden stands first on the catalog
of the ministers of Thyatira. Of those who preceded and im-
mediately succeeded him, we have no history or record to tell
of their labor of love. But doubtless their names were writ-
ten in the hearts of those with whom they lived.
In 1757, Mr. Miller and Mr. Craig were ordered to spend
each one Sabbath at Thyatira.
In the fall of 1755, Mr. Hugh McAden visited North Car-
olina and preached at "Cathey's Meeting House," which was
a small log building that stood where the graveyard now is.
He was a native of Pennsylvania, an alumnus of Nassau Hal],
and a member of Newcastle Presbytery. He was connected
with the church as a missionary, and that only for a few
months. "We know not whether he ever preached here on more
than two or three occasions. Having just been licensed, he
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 9
set out on a tour through the provinces of Virginia and the
Carolinas, to visit the Presbyterian settlements that were
scattered over that tract of country like islands in the sea,
or oases in the desert. His journey was long and arduous,
but doubtless the cause of joy to many a Christian heart. In
1757, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry.
Not long afterwards he returned to North Carolina and spent
most of his ministerial life in this State — in Duplin and New
Hanover and the remainder of his days in Caswell and Pittsyl-
In 1781, he closed his earthly existence, and only a few
days afterwards, the ruthless British soldiers plundered his
house and destroyed many of his most valuable papers. In
consequence of this but little is known of this remarkable man.
Although the history of his labor of love may be erased from
earth, yet doubtless, it is known in heaven and on the great
resurrection morn, scores, and perhaps hundreds, may rise
up and call him blessed.
At the time of Mr. McAden 's visit there were few, if any,
regularly organized churches in this part of the State, but each
community had its own meeting house and each anxious to
have the gospel preached in its own neighborhood ; and minis-
ters being so few in number, this desire could not be granted.
The consequence was a clashing of entreaties, and some con-
tention among the smaller societies. If quarrels were ever
pardonable, certainly these should have been. But in order
that these difficulties might be removed, the Synod of Phila-
delphia sent the Rev. Messrs. Elihu Spencer and Alexander
McWhorter, in the year 1764, to mark out the proper places
for churches, and also their boundaries. "Cathey's Meeting
House, 7 ' under the name of Thyatira; and Centre, from its
position, by the advice and authority of this Committee, su-
perceded all other places of worship, and were, at that time,
the only churches in a long strip of country extending from
the Yadkin to the Catawba.
In 1772 Rev. Mr. Harris took charge of this church and
remained only two years. From the very facts we have rela-
10 HISTOEY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
ting to Mm, it may be inferred that he was a faithful min-
ister — one who endeavored to build up his people in knowledge
and righteousness, and who prayed and labored much for the
purity and prosperity of Zion. Whether he was a pastor, or
only a stated supply, is not known. /-From whence he came
and whither he went after leaving this place, we cannot tell.
The records of Thyatira have ever been so poorly kept, or rath-
er not kept at all, that it is now impossible at this late period to
write anything like a full and accurate history of her early
ministers, of her first struggles for existence ; or whatever else
may have been interesting or praiseworthy is now almost
entirely lost in oblivion.
The Rev. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, D. D., the first min-
ister certainly known to have sustained the relation of pastor
to this church, was born in 1746, in Lancaster County, Pa.
When he was ten years old, his parents removed to North
Carolina, and settled in this county.
Young McCorkle made great proficiency in his studies,
and gave signs in his early youth of his future usefulness.
Having a strong desire to be skilled in literature and science,
at the age of twenty he commenced the study of the classics.
The greater part, if not the whole, of his preparatory course
was under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Caldwell, of Guilford.
In 1772 he graduated at Princeton. His attention was
immediately turned to the work of the ministry. In the
Spring of 1774 he was licensed by the Presbytery of New
He was then employed about two years to labor in Vir-
ginia. And on the 2nd of August, 1777, by the Presbytery of
Hanover, was ordained and installed pastor of Thyatira
church, and remained the under shepherd of the flock until
removed by death, to the presence of the great ' ' Shepherd and
Bishop of Souls."
About the year 1785, and in the eighth of his pastorate,
Dr. McCorkle commenced a classical school, which proved a
great blessing to both Church and State. The first class that
was graduated at Chapel Hill consisted of seven scholars, six
HISTOKY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 11
of whom had been pupils of Dr. McCorkle. "His pupils, in
after life, were found on the bench, in the chair of State, and
45 of them in the pulpit." Had this been all that he ever
did, it would have been in itself sufficient to have handed his
name down to posterity as a benefactor of his race.
In 1775 he was elected to the first professorship of our State
University, but thought it proper not to accept, notwithstand-
ing he felt a deep interest in the welfare of the institution.
He labored much for its prosperity; traveled much to raise
funds for its use ; was present at the laying of the corner stone
of its first building, and delivered an address. And his name
is on the list of its Board of Trustees.
He was an ardent friend of sound learning and religion.
He was also a laborious pastor — indefatigable in his efforts to
improve his flock in divine things. He not only presented
truth abundantly in his discourses on the Sabbath, but also
prevailed on his people to study the Scriptures at home, and
in order to do this he had a Bible class, composed of the prin-
cipal part of his congregation, commencing with the book of
Genesis, he proceeded regularly through the Bible. Such ques-
tions were asked as would lead to reading and reflection.
Speaking with respect to this sytem of instruction, the
venerable man said : " I have found it profitable to myself and
my people, and can venture to say that so far as I have pro-
ceeded, there is not a congregation on the continent better
acquainted with the scriptures."
The Bible and Catechisms were the text books in those
days. And we should profit by their example and learn a
lesson from our fathers. It is to be feared that the wisdom
and piety of our ancestors shone more brightly than that of
their children ; although we may live, as is commonly said, in
a more enlightened and prosperous age.
Dr. McCorkle was a highly gifted man, an elegant scholar,
and an eminently successful minister of the gospel.
At the commencement of the great revival in 1802, Dr.
McCorkle was slow to believe in its purity, owing to the very
strange exercises accompanying it. But being persuaded to
12 HISTOEY OF THYATIKA CHURCH
attend a meeting in Randolph, his mind underwent a change.
He came to the conclusion that the revival was the work of
God, but that the wonderful "exercises" which followed it
were not necessary effects of the Spirit, and he therefore,
bore open testimony against such proceedure. The consequence
was, some of his people agreed with him in his opinion, while
others honestly differed. This difference became wider and
the excitement greater, till it was deemed best for the cause
of religion, that the congregation should separate. Accord-
ingly in 1805, Back Creek church was set off from Thyatira as
a separate congregation, under the pastoral care of Rev. Joseph
Like a brave and undaunted soldier, the first pastor of
this church was faithful to the last, in the discharge of his
high and solemn duty. "He received his death warrant in
the pulpit, being struck with palsy while conducting the ex-
ercises of the sanctuary."
His labors as a minister were done, but as a suffering man
he contiued for several years. His mind and body were both
shattered by the severity of the stroke. ' ' On the 21st of June,
1811, he ceased from his trials, ' ' after about six years of pain-
ful affliction, and a long life of arduous labor in his Master's
When this great and good man had been rendered unable
to perform the duties of his sacred office, he was succeeded by
the Rev. John Brown, D. D. From the year 1807 to 1809, he
preached as a stated supply both at Thyatira and Salisbury
— one-half of his time at each place.
He was a learned man, skilled in theology, literature and
science. He was principal of a nourishing Academy in the
town of Salisbury. But was permitted to remain only about
two years in this community to break unto them the Bread
of Life, and to train the young for future usefulness. He was
called to the presidency of South Carolina College, but after-
wards removed to Georgia, and became the President of Ath-
ens College, and there ended his useful life.
About the commencement of the year 1814, the Rev.
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 13
John Carrigan was called to take charge of this church, to-
gether with Bethpage — one-half of his time to each. While
examining his character, we were forcibly impressed with the
truth that he was a man of more than ordinary piety. We
judge of a man's strength by what he is able to perform. So
we judge of his piety by what he was able to endure under ad-
verse circumstances, and still mantain his Christian character
Mr. Carrigan was not only a good man, but he was highly
useful wherever it was his lot to live. In his younger days
he studied medicine and became a practicing physician. This
knowledge was a source of gratification after he had entered
the ministry. He could often alleviate the pains of his peo-
ple when sick; and the poor especially found in him a valu-
able friend, and a physician both for the body and for the soul.
Like both of his illustrious predecessors, he was engaged in
teaching school and preaching the gospel. So did almost all
the Presbyterian ministers in those days. Other men who
may have been qualified as well as they, were engaged in more
lucrative business, and therefore would not teach ; and this
important work devolved on them.
As a minister of the gospel, Mr. Carrigan had the wisdom
of the serpent, together with the mildness of the dove. By the
grace of God he was made wise to win souls for Christ. Once
when traveling, he stopped to spend the night at a widow's
home. Her only child was a daughter living with her. After
supper, while in conversation with the young lady, Mr. Car-
rigan remarked that he knew one who would make her a fine
companion. Her curiosity was greatly excited to know who
he was. " ! " said the preacher, ' ' He is a most excellent
friend; he would make you happy all your life and happy
in eternity." "Do tell me who it can be!" said she. The
preacher, with great solemnity replied, that it was the Lord
Jesus Christ. The young lady was struck dumb with astonish-
ment. The truth never before had been presented so forcibly
to her mind. The result was that she had no peace of con-
14 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
science till she was a converted woman, and assured of the fact
that Christ was indeed her friend.
Mr. Carrigan was naturally of a lively temperament and
pleasing in his manners, and was well calculated to win the
affection and command the respect of all who knew him.
Eight years he labored to build up this church in knowledge
and righteousness. On the 31st of March, 1822, he closed his
useful life, and now doubtless is enjoying the reward of a
The Rev. James Stafford was the next pastor chosen by
the two churches, Thyatira and Bethpage. He was a man
highly esteemed and beloved by his people. But when our
legislature passed that act forbidding slaves to be taught to
read, he was so much displeased with it that he determined
to leave the commonwealth. He had been the pastor of this
church for the space of about eight years, and then moved
to the Northwest, and is now living at Highland, Illinois.
The Rev. Elijah Morrison succeeded Mr. Stafford as stated
supply to both the above named churches, and continued for
only one or two years. He was afterward pastor of the church
in Concord. But has recently moved to Wadesborough, in
In the Spring of 1831, the Rev. Thomas Espy commenced
his labors in the churches of Thyatira and Salisbury, and
was permitted to continue in his work for the space of one
short year. He was seized with a hemorrhage of the lungs
which put an end, in a great measure, to all his pulpit exer-
cises. "Of middling stature, a slender frame, somewhat deli-
cate constitution, he had permitted his ardent desire to build
up the cause of Christ to lead him to efforts in public speak-
ing beyond his strength." His ardent heart made him for-
getful of himself; and in consequence of a cold, caught dur-
ing a series of appointments in the Fall of 1831, his lungs
gave way, and he was able to preach no more. On the 16th
of April, 1833, he breathed his last, in full hope of a joyous
"Mr. Espy," says one who knew him well, "possessed a
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 15
quickness of apprehension and patience of investigation, rare-
ly found, in combination. He was not what is called a popu-
lar preacher, but he was something a great deal better." His
preaching was plain, pointed and practical. It was his de-
light to hold up Christ and him crucified. He was a man
greatly beloved in his life, and lamented at his death.
After Mr. Espy, the Rev. Patrick J. Sparrow, D. D., sup-
plied this church and the church of Salisbury, for one year,
and was then called to a professorship in Davidson College,
which institution commenced in 1837. He was afterwards
made the President of Hampden Sydney College in Virginia.
He is now preaching as a stated supply at Pensacola, Florida.
Like a bark upon the billow, he has been greatly tossed on the
ocean of life.
In May, 1835, the Rev. James D. Hall was made pastor of
Thyatira and Franklin — one-half his time at each place. This
relationship continued till the Fall of 1846, when he removed
to Goshen and New Hope, where he yet remains breaking unto
the people the Bread of Life.
In the Fall of 1846, the Rev. Stephen Frontis became the
stated supply of this church for half of his time. He also
preached at Franklin and Center. This arrangement con-
tinued till the Spring of 1851, when Center employed him for
the whole of his time. And in the good providence of God
he is yet spared to preach that gospel which has cheered and
strengthend him so long, even down to a good old age.
After Mr. Frontis left, the Rev. James M. H. Adams
preached here occasionally for a few months as stated supply.
He is now the minister of the church in Yorkville, S. C.
In March, 1852, Mr. Robert Agnew, a licentiate under the
care of Concord Presbytery, became the stated supply of
Thyatira and Back Creek, and continued to preach until June,
1853, when he left and is now in Winnsboro, South Carolina.
And in March, 1854, he who now addresses you, commenced
his labors among this people and the people of Back Creek.
May God give him grace to discharge his solemn duty aright !
We will now proceed to give a short sketch of the
16 HISTOEY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
Owing to the entire want of a church record, it must
needs be but a meager outline of their history. A few aged
fathers of a former generation yet remain to tell us of those
who in early times lived and labored here, for the prosperity
of Zion, of those who, like many of the excellent of the earth,
have quietly performed their work, and quietly have been
carried to their graves, but left behind them impressions, last-
ing to eternity.
One of the first elders of this church was the father of
Dr. McCorkle. He removed from Pennsylvania to this com-
munity, in the year 1756. He was a man of ardent piety.
His physical powers began to fail before his son became the
pastor of this church. But he, together with the partner of
his life, lived to enjoy the pleasure of sitting under the sound
of the gospel from the lips of their own son, in whom they had
unbounded confidence. Thus having reached to a good old
age, they died, and were laid side by side in Thyatira grave-
William Cathey was also one of the elders. But little is
know of his history. It is probable that this church received
its first name from him or family. It was known for a long time
as " Cathey 's Meeting House." If this supposition is true, it
was a beautiful tribute paid to a good man. Though he was
not permitted to see the times of refreshing in the beginning
of this century, yet we trust he was made infinitely happier
by being removed from earth to heaven.
John McNeely was born in Pennsylvania in 1724. After
arriving to years of manhood, he, together with many others,
sought for themselves a home in the more genial clime of the
Carolinas. He settled in the bounds of this congregation, and
about the time of the organization of the church, was elected
an elder. He was a man of sound mind and warm-hearted
piety, and beloved and respected by the church in which he
ruled. He was strict Presbyterian. He taught his children the
standards of the Church. They not only had the Shorter Cate-
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 17
ehism memorized thoroughly, but were able to repeat the
Larger verbatim — an attainment that is seldom reached in
these latter days. He thus continued to let his light shine
till 1801, when his long and exemplary life was ended.
Tradition says that the venerable James Graham was
made an elder when this church was organized. He was born
in Scotland in 1695, 160 years ago. In the land of Knox and
Chalmers, like many of the noble spirits of his day, he grew
tired of tyranny and oppression, set sail for the land of free-
dom and found a home in the bounds of this congregation. He
lived to a good old age, and died in 1782. It is to be lamented
that so little is known of the early fathers of Thyatira. Their
history, like their bodies, is buried, and buried forever.
John Dobbin was a venerable father in the church, and
one of her first servants. He was a straight-forward, honest
man, one who endeavored to practice the principles he pro-
fessed; who delighted in his Master's work; was anxious for
the prosperity of Zion ; and especially for that part in which
he lived. In his life, like Job, he was greatly afflicted with
sores, which doubtless, in the end, proved a blessing. His
afflictions taught him that his happiness could not be found in
perfection here, and that he must needs be prepared for a
better land, where the inhabitants shall not say, "I am sick,"
and where "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things
have passed away."
Samuel Barkley moved to this part of the State in its
early settlement. He was elected an elder in this church,
and served it with fidelity to the end of his life, which event
closed about the close of the last century. He was a man of
some sprightliness of character, keenness of perception, and
was conscientious in the discharge of his duty.
About a hundred years ago, Pennsylvania sent many of
her noblest sons to this part of the country, to subdue the wil-
derness, to build up churches, and to advance the cause of
liberty and true religion.
18 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
"William Bowman was also among the earliest ruling elders
of Thyatira church. But little is known of his history. He
had two sons who were Presbyterian ministers, who moved
somewhere to the Southwest many years ago.
On the 11th of March, 1795, Mr. Bowman was killed, while
coming from Salisbury with his wagon. From the fact of two
of his sons being ministers of the gospel, we might reasonably
suppose that he ordered his family aright, and set before them
a Godly example.
John Barr was born in Pennsylvania in 1749. In 1765,
he came with his father's family to North Carolina and set-
tled in this county, and having lived fourscore years and two,
he died. John Barr was no ordinary man, whether he be re-
garded as a farmer, as a student, or as a ruler in the church.
In each of these departments he gave signs of greatness. He
was a scientific agriculturist, an assiduous student, and an
elder highly esteemed. He was emphatically a systematic
man ; everything he did seemed to be in accordance with some
pre-arranged plan. His attainments in science and literature
were commendable. When we consider the difficulties which
he had to surmount, we are astonished. It is said with credi-
bility, that three months was the entire time that he spent at
school. But when we remember that his ardent thirst for
knowledge led him to spend an hour in the morning, at noon,
and at night, with his books, through a long life, we cease to
wonder at his great acquirements. In his day there was a
library in this church, composed of not many volumes, but
well selected, such as "Rollins' Ancient History," "Gibbon's
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "Mosheim's Eccle-
siastical History," "Prideaux's Connections," "Hume's His-
tory of England," "Butler's Analogy," and such like stand-
ard works, from which he drank often, and drank deeply.
But above all, he was a student of the Bible. The book of
inspiration seemed to lie open before him like a map, to be
seen with one view. He gave himself, his influence, and of
his money, for the furtherance of his Master's Kingdom.
He assisted in the Sunday school, and lent a helping hand
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 19
to all benevolent institutions of his day. His character has
been beautifully sketched by another. The writer says: "A
day laborer on his own farm, bred to no mechanic art, yet an
architect by rule, a weaver of most tasteful diamonds for do-
mestic coverlets, and successful student of Bacon's Principles
of Inductive Philosophy ; the best cooper of the district, while
Locke himself, could scarcely have with more skill, unfolded
the treasures of his own treatise on Human Understanding;
seldom beyond the limits of his own county, yet on the map
of the world, in tracing the boundaries of empires, and course
of rivers, as much at home as in the relative possession of his
fields and the current of the interesting books; a man of do-
mestic spirit and habits, yet conversant with the transactions
of European courts, as if commissioned to treat with them on
questions of national importance." (See Life of John Barr)
When Back Creek was set off as a separate congregation,
he was elected there to the same spiritual office, which he
filled with ability till the close of his life. But few churches
could boast of such an elder, few communities of such a man,
and few children of such a father. He had a mind well stored
with useful knowledge, a heart warmed with true piety and a
disposition sweetened with the Christian graces. His body
now lies in Thyatira graveyard. Honor to his name, peace to
his ashes !
Thomas King was a man of ardent piety, of remarkable
modesty, clothed with prudence, and blessed with a strong
mind. In the exciting times in which he lived he observed
causes and could foretell effects, and was thus enabled so to
direct his steps, as to win the approbation of all. In the
great revival, his conduct was praiseworthy; he neither join-
ed those who fanned the flames of excitement, nor those who
desired to quell it. But his steady aim was to roll on the
chariot of salvation. In 1805, he went to Back Creek and was
a worthy member of that church and session till his death,
which occured in the year 1812.
Thomas Gillespie was a man of sanguine temperament,
and was very zealous in the cause of his Master. Nothing
20 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
cheered him more than to see the Church "lengthening her
cords and strengthening her stakes." He was gifted with
the tongue, and often exhorted his brethren at prayermeet-
ings, and such like places, to press forward to the kingdom,
and urged the ungodly to flee to Jesus Christ for safety. He
was thought by some to be loquacious, but if such was his
loquacity, it was certainly pardonable.
Some deemed him eccentric, but if such was his eccentri-
city, it was noble and praiseworthy. In 1805, he became an
elder in Back Creek. A few years afterward he moved west-
ward, and his bones now lie somewhere in Tennessee.
Abraham Lowrance was an ardent friend of liberty, a
true patriot, and a soldier in a double sense ; for he served his
country in the struggles of the Revolution, and afterwards be-
came an office-bearer in the church. He manifested as much
zeal in the latter as he did bravery in the former, was always
ready for his Master's service, and humbly performed his
duty. His lamentation was that he had done so little for
Christ, and had made such slow progress in divine life.
During the great revival he was once complaining of his
spiritual deadness and coldness in religion. He was called on
to lead in prayer, and when he had poured forth the feelings
of his heart in earnest supplications, a friend remarked to
him that a man who could pray, as he had prayed, ought not
to complain of coldness and barrenness. "Ah," said he,
"Something whispered to me, 'Well done, Abram. ' " In 1805
he joined the session of Back Creek, afterward having removed
to Statesville, he closed his useful life.
William Bell was also a lover of liberty and true relig-
ion. He was both a servant of God and of his country; lie
dared to unsheath his sword in the defense of the one, and
to devote his life in the service of the other.
His highest eulogy was that he was an intelligent man and
a warm-hearted Christian. He, together with Lowrance, King,
Gillespie and Barr, left this church for the purpose of building
up another. Their names will ever be remembered as inti-
mately connected with the early history of Back Creek, and
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 21
her first eldership. Men, too, that were an honor to the com-
munity in which they lived, one of whom the church might
well be proud.
Thomas Cowan, a man of sterling worth. His valor was
proved in the war of the Revolution. He contended earnestly
for sound principles, and fought bravely for right and justice.
Probably in the battles of his country, he learned that it was
also his duty to battle in the cause of his Prince and Saviour.
As he was an officer in the former, so also in the latter. No
one probably was more zealous for the Redeemer's kingdom.
This venerable house, now moldering with age, bears witness
to his Christian zeal and energy ; for he was one of the leading
spirits that assisted in its erection. He was blessed with a
sound judgment, clear mind and a warm heart. He was soci-
able in disposition, and instructive in conversation. A young
friend of his once desired to know how springs of water could
gush from the top of the highest mountain. "Why, son,"
said he, "If you will cut your head with a knife, will it not
Joseph Kerr was possessed of great energy of character.
Nothing that was possible seemed too difficult for him to un-
dertake, if duty pointed to it. That great truth uttered by
Sallust, seemed to have been his motto — " Suoe quisque for-
tunoe faber." There have been but few better examples of
honest industry and frugality. But his highest eulogy by far,
is, that he was a good man and a warm friend of the church.
He felt that without the religion of Jesus Christ, the Church
would be destroyed, and the community debased. Hence his
zeal in the noblest of all causes. And in that remarkable time
of refreshing which came from the presence of the Lord, in the
early part of this century, he took a deep interest and an ac-
tive part. He was always ready to push forward the work ot
the Master. In short, he was a kind neighbor, a good citizen
and a venerable elder.
James Stewart was a man of good understanding, of
knowledge and piety. He had much to hinder him in his
Christian life. He lived when infidelity was rampant, not
22 HISTOEY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
only in this region, but in other parts of the world. There
were those akin to him who openly denied the Christian faith.
But we have reason to believe that he came off victorious
through Christ over all his spiritual enemies. For saith the
Scriptures, ' ' I will be a God to thee and thy seed after thee. ' '
His son, William, became a Presbyterian minister, and an ad-
vocate of the same great truths that cheered his father 's heart.
James McCulloch was a father in the church; a bold,
fearless Christian man, who had courage to think for himself,
and to speak as he thought; was a prominent member of the
session, and a warm friend of the cause in which he was en-
gaged. His useful life was ended in the year, 1812.
William Cowan, a half-brother to Thomas, whose char-
acter has already been noticed, was remarkable for punctual-
ity. The snow and sleet and the wintry blast, did not keep him
from the sanctuary, without a better reason, a virtue that will
cause any man to be respected.
Time would fail me to speak at length of the excellencies
of William Gibson, Francis Gibson, and James Silliman, of
whom the church might well be proud; modest and unassum-
ing in their disposition, and when duty called, they were al-
ways found at their post. Also Richard Gillespie, and of his
son, James A. Gillespie, who was beloved and highly esteemed
in life, and in death, not forgotten. And of William Miller,
Henry Winders, William Chambers, and Matthew Locke, that
man who bid fair to be one of Thyatira's most useful servants.
These were all excellent men and venerable laborers in the
vineyard of Christ. But they all died comparatively young
in their Master's service.
John Reed, whose name was omitted in its proper place,
was an elder in this church about the time of the great revival.
After the death of Dr. McCorkle he removed to Tennessee.
I have thus briefly glanced at the history of those men
who have been elders of this church, and have since gone to
reap their reward.
James Caruthers yet lives in the bounds of this congre-
gation, although well stricken in years, being now almost four
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 23
score and ten. Jacob Skiles removed to Tennessee, where he
yet lives. Captain John McCulloch, for many years an elder
in this church, now lives in Statesville. Husto Patterson, was
elected and ordained an elder in Thyatira church, but after
some years joined Back Creek church, and is now there hold-
ing the same spiritual office.
The present bench of ruling elders consists of six, viz. :
Alexander Lowrance — this venerable father, now in his 78th
year, most frequently walks to church, a distance of three
or four miles, proving himself faithful even down to hoary
age. When the Lord takes him home, Thyatira will have to
mourn the loss of her best man. The remaining five are : Thom-
as Todd, James Gibson, John Lowrance, John Silliman, and
John K. Graham.
In all, there have been thirty-seven ruling elders ordained
in this church — a band of noble men, who took for their guide
the Word of God, and its happy principles, we trust, have
borne those who have gone before us safely into the haven of
It is a cause of gratitude to God to see that he has blessed
and sustained the descendants of those venerable fathers who
have lived and labored during the past century in this church.
Many of their children are still here to fill their seats, as pri-
vate members as well as office-bearers ; and many may be
found in the neighboring churches, occupying similar places of
usefulness. This is remarkably true with reference to the
eldership. With but few exceptions, those excellent men who
first ruled in Thyatira, have left, each, a son to stand in their
stead and fill their responsible office. The names of Lowrance,
Gibson, Graham, Gillespie, Cowan, King, Barr, McCulloch,
Silliman and others, can testify to the truth of that precious
promise, ' ' I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee. ' '
Thus hath the mantle of the father fallen upon the son ; and
if it please the Lord may it continue until the end of time.
The territory of this church was once very extensive,
but church after church sprang up in her ancient limits, until
it has grown much smaller than in former times. Third Creek
24 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
was set off in 1798, Back Creek in 1805, Prospect in 1824, and
Salisbury in 1821. Franklin, Unity, Bethesda, and a part of
Fifth Creek, also, now occupy ground that once belonged to
Thyatira. In the last hundred years, great changes have been
wrought in the natural and moral worlds. A century ago
this country was like one vast prairie, with trees scattered
here and there, while the earth was covered with a carpet of
luxuriant grass, with flowers of every hue interspersed, to
beautify the scenery. It was then the home of the Indian;
he roamed undisturbed over his native hills and valleys, and
obtained his subsistence from the earth's spontaneous produc-
tions. But how changed the scene ! The beauty of the prairie
has been destroyed, and the last Indian has gone to his grave.
A hundred years ago, we, or our ancestors, were living
far in the interior, and heard from Europe or the old world but
once in six months. Now, if we do not hear every nine or ten
days, we are disappointed. During that long period, the
Church has also passed through many changes. The infancy
of Thyatira was spent in much tribulation. And when it was
older, it had to contend with strong enemies. About the close
of the last century, infidelity, with all its strength and subtil -
ty, attacked the church. Many of the strongest men in this
community, at that time, were deeply tainted. Religion seem-
ed to pine away and almost die ; the Church mourned her low
state, and the Lord heard her prayers, and had compassion up-
on her, and thanks to His Name, infidelity, with all its cun-
ning advocates, could not triumph, but was foiled in all its
base attempts. The revival of 1802, gave it a fatal blow, so
that its hideous head has never since been raised so high, to
pollute and annoy the Church of God.
The venerable fathers who labored in the early existence
of this church, have, one by one, all gone to their graves. But
they have left us a rich legacy; a free country, a prosperous
church and happy homes, made so by the inculcation of pure
principles. They also subdued the wilderness, established
schools and advanced the cause of true religion.
A hundred years more and all who now hear my voice
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 25
must go as our fathers have gone. We are following fast in
their footsteps. The congregation here, will soon be removed,
one by one, to the congregation of the dead. The great change
will go on slowly and steadily, until all these pleasant faces
shall molder into dust.
"Art is long and time is fleeting,
And though our hearts are stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave."
Then, if this be true, let us be up and doing! Let us
leave to those who succeed us, a still richer legacy than was
left to us ; that the Church may go on prosperously, and soon
hail the bright Millennial Day. Let each of us be a valiant
soldier in the army of Prince Immanuel, that we may win un-
fading laurels and a crown of glory that shall outshine the
"In the world's broad field of battle
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb driven cattle,
But be heroes of the strife."
NOTE — The celebration continued for eight days, during which
time the gospel was faithfully preached, and the Lord saw fit to bless
His Word in a most wonderful manner. Between forty and fifty
persons expressed a willingness to give themselves up to Jesus Christ,
to be his follower; and gave pleasing evidence of a change of heart.
It was, of a truth, a pentecostal season. Every heart seemed to be
deeply impressed with a sense of divine things. "Thou God seest
me," seemed to be the feeling of all. The aged fathers and mothers
tell us that they have not seen such in fifty years — since the great
revival of 1802.
By THOMAS WILSON LINGLE
(A Son of the Church)
The author of the first part of this sketch, Rev. Samuel
Caldwell Alexander, was the pastor of Thyatira from March,
1854, to December, 1858. He was the first graduate of Da-
vidson College ever called to this pastorate, being a member
of the class of 1848. He studied theology three years at Col-
umbia Seminary. Coming to Thyatira in the full vigor of
young manhood, at the age of twenty-four, he proved to be
aggressive along all lines of work, a preacher of the truth,
firm and fearless, a popular and faithful pastor, exercising the
arm of discipline with the help of an able session. The old
church made good progress during his pastorate, and reluc-
tantly gave him up.
Mr. Alexander prepared the greatly prized sketch of the
history of the church when he was only twenty-five years of
age, and when he had been in the community only a year and
a half. There could be no better evidence of his unusual his-
torical and literary gifts, and ability to acquaint himself with
the people of a community and their history and traditions in
a remarkably short time.
Mr. Alexander held pastorates in Arkansas and elsewhere
after leaving Thyatira, and lived to a ripe age. The writer
of these lines recalls an address he heard Mr. Alexander de-
liver at Davidson College in the early nineties, on ' ' The Stone
Kingdom," showing a remarkable familiarity with the Scrip-
tures and extensive study of unfulfilled prophecy. His print-
ed works are still found in many homes throughout the South-
ern Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Barnabas Scott Krider was the next pastor, taking
charge in 1859, at the age of thirty. Prepared for college by
the noted Peter Stuart Ney; a graduate of Davidson College
in the class of 1850 along with Jethro Rumple, also a graduate
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 27
of Princeton Seminary, Mr. Krider had one of the most fruit-
ful, though brief, pastorates in the history of the church. His
written sermons and other works show him to have been a
man of scholarly attainments. Older members of the churcn
have often spoken to the writer regarding Mr. Krider's able
preaching and tender ministrations in the pastorate. After
his first year he preached at Thyatira every Sabbath. There
were two very gracious revivals of religion, the second, oc-
curring only two weeks before his death, resulting in the ad-
dition of twenty-seven persons to the membership of the
The death of this gifted, godly, beloved man occurred
October 19, 1865, at the early age of thirty-six. His wife sur-
vived him nearly forty years, always a highly esteemed mem-
ber, faithful to the end in attendance upon the sanctuary. A
son, bearing the father's name, is still a faithful member of
the congregation. A brief appreciation of the life and work
of Mr. Krider is contained in a memorial sketch by Rev. G.
The present substantial brick edifice used by the congre-
gation, the fourth in the history of the church, was erected
during the pastorate of Mr. Krider and completed in 1860,
just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Reference is later
made to its dedication. In that day it must have been no
small task to find the means in a rather sparsely populated
community to erect such an edifice.
The church was next served for seven months by Rev.
W. A. Wood, also a graduate of Davidson College where he
was a member of the class two years behind that of Mr. Krider,
the two having been very close friends since college days. Mr.
Wood was not installed pastor of Thyatira. However, the
church was fortunate in having the ministrations of such a
man even for a short time. For thirty years Rev. William A.
Wood, D. D., was pastor of the church in Statesville, formerly
known as Fourth Creek, where he was regarded as one of
the ablest, as well as one of the gentlest and saintliest of
men. A large portrait of him hangs today in the office of the
28 HISTOEY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
President of Davidson College, of which institution he was
a valuable Trustee for twenty-nine years.
The next stated supply after Dr. Wood was Rev. John
D. Wilson, also a graduate of Davidson College. He remained
only two months, and was followed by Rev. George M. Gibbs,
who began his labors at Thyatira in August, 1867, giving half
of his time to Franklin church with which Thyatira became
associated in securing a pastor. He resigned the pastorate
the following year for some reason not very clear today, and
little is known of him after that time.
Thyatira and Franklin next issued a call to Rev. Dr.
Samuel Caldwell Pharr, who graduated at Davidson College in
the class of 1841 along with Hon. J. G. Ramsay and Dr. Bur-
ton Wood, both so long and so favorably known in Rowan and
Iredell Counties. Dr. Pharr received his degree also from
Princeton College, studied theology at Union Seminary in
Virginia, and received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from
Centre College in Kentucky. Dr. Pharr served Thyatira four
years as pastor. Among the infants he baptized were several
who are now officers in the church, as well as the writer of
this sketch. Many who sat under the preaching of Dr. Pharr
often spoke many years afterwards of his pulpit work as be-
ing of a very high order. He was a man with a remarkably
clear voice, delivering his sermons with fervor, yet not in
labored style. His two congregations were scattered over a
large territory which he traversed over and over again in his
efforts to serve his people. In wintry weather he endured
hardships to serve his people. Rumors arose as to some ir-
regularities of conduct while on these trips, which eventually
were the occasion of intervention by Concord Presbytery. In
the trial the prosecution was conducted by Rev. Jos. B. Mack,
then the young pastor of Rocky River church. The differences
of opinion arising were the occasion of the termination of the
pastorate, and Dr. Pharr on leaving Thyatira went over to the
Methodist church, in which he had a useful ministry until
his death in Stokes County in 1886, at the age of sixty-one.
Testimony of his faithful service at Thyatira was found, not
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 29
only in the resolutions drawn up by a committee of the church
appointed for the purpose, but also in the reverent and affec-
tionate manner in which his friends in the congregation men-
tioned his name for many years after his departure.
After Dr. Pharr, Thyatira had no regular pastor for a
period of four years, due in part, no doubt, to dissensions, as
well as to difficult conditions following the Civil War. The
spiritual life of the church during that time left much to be
desired, of which hints are found here and there in sessional
records. There were few accessions to the church, various
members were charged with conduct not befitting true Chris-
tians, though the session seems to have been faithful, including
as it did at that time some men whose lives and character
were a steadying influence for all those about them.
The great Head of the Church, however, was preparing a
man who could fall into the breach and bring harmony out
of discord, fruitfulness where there had been comparative bar-
renness. Mr. J. Alston Ramsay, of Salisbury, a graduate of
Davidson College and in his second year at Union Seminary,
came to supply the church during the summer of 1876. His
work was of such a promising nature that the people were not
long in deciding that his services as regular pastor would be
highly acceptable. During his remaining year at the Sem-
inary the church secured a stated supply in the person of
Rev. Peter Tinsley Penick, educated also at Davidson College
and Union Seminary, and destined to have later a remarkable
pastorate in Mooresville until his death in 1886. During this
period Mr. Kiah Price Julian was also brought to Thyatira to
conduct a private school. Mr. Julian was also a native of
Salisbury and college classmate of Mr. Ramsay, and like him
a candidate for the ministry. Mr. Julian, remembered as a
very genial, attractive young man to whom all homes were
open, assisted in the work of the church as opportunity pre-
sented itself. Leaving the community to continue his educa-
tion, Mr. Julian had useful pastorates in several States until
his death at Micanopy, Florida, in 1889.
The church made out the formal call for the services of
30 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
Mr. Ramsay in March, 1877, and his pastorate began when he
completed his seminary course in May. He labored fourteen
years in our midst, rounding out one of the longest pastorates
in the history of the church, and evidently one of the most
useful. A few months after his arrival work was begun on
a manse located on a choice lot in the settlement of Mill Bridge,
a few hundred yards distant from the church. The young
pastor was not long in fulfilling the desire of the congregation
by bringing to the new home one who would gracefully pre-
side over it, — formerly Miss Belle McNutt, of Hampden Sid-
Mr. Ramsay took a bold stand for Christian Education,
and was largely instrumental in the erection of a school house
on the church grounds and in bringing to the community a
Christian teacher, John Correll of the Prospect neighborhood,
who taught a classical school and exercised an influence over
the youth of this section, that reminded many of the days of
Dr. Samuel McCorkle and Zion-Parnassus nearly a century
before. Mr. Correll was an unofficial assistant to the pastor,
boarded in his home for a time, sang well and was leader of
the choir, was most valuable in the work of the Sunday school,
promoted co-operation among the young people, was an in-
spirational force in the men's prayer-meetings held every Sun-
day afternoon, brought many young men to a willingness to
lead in public prayer, and it was largely his influence that
decided various young men and women of the congregation
to dedicate their lives to Christian work at home and abroad.
Mr. Correll was a gifted teacher, preparing many young
people for college. He entered into the life of the community
in a remarkable way, especially as it centered about the school
and church, assuming at times a heavy burden in that connec-
tion while always bearing a heavy domestic burden, showing
now and then an unusual sense of humor, while ordinarily
grave in manner for a young man of his years. After conse-
crating his best efforts of body, mind, and heart to the school
and church for a period of seven years, he moved with his
family in the year 1891, to Edna, Texas, where he was super-
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 31
intendent of schools until his death in November, 1900. His
wife (nee Emma Brookfield, one of his former pupils at Thya-
tira) and children are residing in Waco, Texas, at the present
time. Mr. Ramsay rendered a great service in bringing this
godly, gifted teacher to the community — a man whose memory
is still held in affectionate regard by so many men and womeu
to whom he brought a vision of the opportunites of life and the
privilege of service.
Mr. Ramsay, a man of versatile gifts, brought scholarship,
zeal and a fine sense of the practical to his work in our midst.
Though reared in town, he was well equipped for serving a
country church such as Thyatira. With his coming, the as-
sociation of Thyatira with Franklin was severed, and a group-
ing with Thyatira 's daughter, Back Creek church, was estab-
lished, which has happily continued for nearly half a century
to the present time. More than once there has been discussion
of the question as to Thyatira 's having a pastor for his whole
time, but the conclusion has ever been that Back Creek and
the mother church should not be separated.
All still living, who sat under the preaching of Mr. Ram-
say, bear testimony to the excellence of his sermonizing, the
soundness of his theology, the clearness of his thought, and
his gifts of expression. Always a frail man physically, Mr.
Ramsay was a hard student, a man of refined taste and senti-
ment, gifted with discernment and tact, and the visit he made
annually and oftener to each member of the congregation was
appreciated by all and was an inspiration to many a family.
He was faithful in visiting the sick and the sorrowful, con-
ducted the funeral services when the parents of many of us
were laid to rest in the old churchyard, and with a text such
as, "Prepare to meet thy God," would hold up to us the issues
of life and death as few men are able to do.
Mr. Ramsay received the degree of Doctor of Dinvity from
Davidson College, was elected Stated Clerk of the Synod of
North Carolina in the year 1886, which position he continued
to hold until his death. Dr. Ramsay was prominent as a Pres-
byter, versed in the Book of Church Government and Presby-
32 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
terian Law, and a number of times he was the Commissioner of
Concord Presbytery to the General Assembly, taking an active
part in the deliberations of the highest Court of the Church.
In 1891, Dr. Ramsay accepted a call to the church in
Hickory where he again had a successful pastorate until his
death in the year 1900. Mrs. Ramsay and their only daughter
now reside in Gastonia, where they are valued members of
the church in that place.
Though the departure of the Ramsays from Thyatira was
greatly regretted, the church lost no time in securing a new
pastor, so that not a single Sunday passed without preaching.
The name of Rev. John Abner Harris was proposed by R. E.
C. Lawson, then in charge of the school at Thyatira and seems
to have been seconded by Dr. Ramsay himself. A graduate of
Davidson College and Union Seminary, Mr. Harris came to
Thyatira in July, 1891, to undertake his first pastorate, first as
supply, having received the formal call in August, and he
was not ordained and installed until the following January.
Mr. Harris was a man of quiet, modest manner, serious in
purpose, untiring in the performance of his pastoral duties
among the people, and numerous persons from the borders
of the congregation, who had gotten out of the habit of at-
tending church, came glady to hear him preach. He was ever
a welcome guest in the homes of the humblest as well as others,
and won the affection of the children of the community. He
stressed the importance of the young men's prayer-meeting
which had been inaugurated in the days of Dr. Ramsay and
Mr. Correll, and it continued to do a most excellent work dur-
ing the entire pastorate of Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harris resigned the pastorate at the end of seven
years, in October, 1898, to undertake Home Mission work in
the mountain counties of Concord Presbytery, and there, with-
in the bounds of the present Synod of Appalachia, he con-
tinued faithfully in the work until his death in the year 1924.
Thyatira was without a regular pulpit supply until May,
1899, when Rev. Geo. L. Cook came and served as supply for
a period of five months. Mr. Cook was a man with a clear
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 33
voice, pitched rather high, a logical thinker, and gave force-
ful expositions of Bible truth. He was succeeded as supply
for a short time by Rev. John W. Lafferty, to whom a formal
call was then extended by the two churches. However, Mr.
Lafferty decided to accept a call to a church in Florida, much
to the regret of those who had come to appreciate his earnest
The next regular pastor after the departure of Mr. Har-
ris was Rev. John A. Gilmer, a graduate of Davidson College,
who had had long experience as a teacher, and had studied
theology privately for a long time and for a year at Union
Seminary. Mr. Gilmer took up the work at Thyatira in July,
1900, remaining until the Spring of 1904, when he accepted a
call to the church in Newton. Mr. Gilmer came to Thyatira
as a man of much experience, who had worked hard and
thought much. His large heart and sympathetic nature, and
his devotion to duty, enabled him to establish a relationship
between himself and the people, that was most happy and
fruitful. The work of the church made good progress during
this pastorate, there being seasons of special grace, notably
during the meeting conducted by Rev. Dr. A. R. Shaw, then
of Henderson, N. C. At this time twenty-seven young peo-
ple were received into the church on examination. Thyatira
was host to Concord Presbytery in September, 1901. Mr.
Gilmer made a very strong appeal personally to the older mem-
bers of the congregation, who had a real affection for him, and
a right royal welcome always awaited him and Mrs. Gilmer
when they returned for short visits in after years. Mr. Gilmer
died in 1913, while pastor of the church at Mt. Airy in Orange
Presbytery, while Mrs. Gilmer now resides with relatives in
her native town of Morganton.
The church was next supplied by Rev. J. B. Branch of
Columbia Seminary, to whom a regular call was extended by
the two churches. Pending his ordination and installation,
he labored with great acceptance during the summer of 1905.
Mr. Branch was a young man of independent nature, at home
with all classes of people, able to take a hand in any situation
34 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
in the home, around the woodpile and the barn yard or in the
field, as well as in the Sunday school and in the pulpit. No
one could have made more warm friends in so short a time.
With regret the church concurred with his request to be re-
leased from his obligation, in order that he might continue his
studies at Princeton, New Jersey. His brief ministry at Thy-
atira was such as to establish great confidence in future service
for Mr. Branch in the ministry.
In the spring of 1906, a call was extended to Rev. W. M.
"Walsh, then of Stanley, N. C, a graduate of Davidson Col-
lege and Union Seminary. Mr. Walsh took charge of the
work in March, and soon won a warm place in the affections
of the people, young and old. Mr. Walsh was a quiet man,
rather timid in manner, conscientious to the last degree, faith-
ful in all particulars, a lover of the word of God, — a man
whose Christian piety no one could ever think of calling into
question. In times of sorrow and distress the sympathy and
comforting words of Mr. Walsh were always eagerly sought.
His heart was unreservedly with his people to whom he min-
istered in the home and in the pulpit for a period of four and
a half years while the congregation showed a loyalty to him
that must have given him courage. More than the usual num-
ber of persons united with the church during the ministry of
Mr. Walsh and the roll of members showed some increase de-
spite the steady drift of population toward the towns and
cities. The names of many sons and daughters of Thyatira
who moved away, were transferred to the rolls of the churches
in Salisbury, Statesville, Mooresville and other towns.
Mr. Walsh resigned the pastorate in January, 1911, to
accept calls to Statesville and Barium Springs, leaving there
later for pastorates in Sherman, Texas, and Abingdon, Vir-
ginia. He is now pastor of the last named church, in the
Synod of Appalachia.
The pulpit was supplied by various ministers during the
year and a half following the resignation of Mr. Walsh. The
one who remained longest was Rev. J. A. McQueen, a gradu-
ate of Davidson College and Princeton Seminary, and who is
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 35
now the efficient pastor of the church in Rockingham, N. C.
He supplied Thyatira acceptably during the summers of 1911
September 1, 1912, marked the arrival of Rev. J. C. Grier,
a graduate of Davidson College and Union Seminary. Mr.
Grier came direct to this pastorate from the Seminary without
previous experience as pastor, and remained until the Spring
of 1916. Mr. Grier was a son of the manse, his father being
at the time a most influential member of the Presbytery and
the able minister of the First church in Concord. Young Mr.
Grier was earnest in his efforts, he visited extensively in the
homes of the congregation, and gave his best to the interests
of the church. After leaving Thyatira he served for a num-
ber of years within the Synod of South Carolina. He is now
pastor at Rutherfordton in the Presbytery of King's Moun-
Rev. E. D. Brown became the pastor of Thyatira and
Back Creek churches October 1, 1916. His pastorate is now
the fourth longest in the history of the church, the three who
served for a longer period being Dr. Samuel McCorkle (1777-
1807), Rev. James D. Hall (1835-1846), and Dr. J. A. Ram-
say (1877-1891). Dr. Brown grew up in the Steele Creek
congregation near Charlotte, graduated at Davidson College,
and Union Seminary, and held pastorates at Kinston in the
Presbytery of Albemarle, at Concord (Iredell) and at Hope-
well in Mecklenburg. Probably no pastor of Thyatira for
the past hundred years has been the recipient of so many
marks of confidence as Dr. Brown. He was honored with the
degree of Doctor of Divinity by his alma mater. He has serv-
ed as Moderator of two Presbyteries, and of the Synod of
North Carolina. He is Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Con-
cord, a trustee of the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association at
Banner Elk, of Davidson College, and also of Union Seminary.
He has served three times as Commissioner to the General As-
Dr. Brown brought to the work sermonizing ability of a
high order, and unswerving devotion to the great doctrines
36 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
of our Church, facility in leading the people in singing the
songs of Zion, a cheerful disposition, a genuis for friendship,
abiding loyalty to the great Head of the Church, and last but
not least, a life-partner who is often cited throughout the
Synod as a model in her position and relation to the work
in a rural congregation.
During Dr. Brown's pastorate, for the first time, there
has been preaching service every Sunday at both Thyatira
and Back Creek. This has been made possible in part by the
great improvement in the condition of the public roads and
the introduction of the automobile, as well as by Dr. Brown's
physical strength and his zeal for the work. There has been
steady growth in the work of the church, so that both mem-
bership and attendance on the average are larger than ever
in the past. There are now on the roll of the church the
names of 242 members in good and regular standing.
A study of the sessional records of Thyatira, as well as
our own personal knowledge of many of the men concerned
furnishes clear proof that the session of the church has usu-
ally had a high conception of its duty, responsibility, and
authority, that it has been faithful to its trust through the
years, that its personnel has included men of the highest type
of Christian character and piety, men commanding the high-
est esteem of their fellow-citizens. They have been loyal to
their pastor and to the church, and have faithfully studied the
things pertaining to the Master's kingdom. They have many
times waited upon members of the church who were engaging
in sinful practices, and often have persuaded such to endeavor
to lead a new life. In several cases, men thus waited upon
by some esteemed member of the session have given up the
sinful practice, and in time have themselves become members
of the session and have in turn been appointed by the session
as a whole to wait upon others leading a sinful life, and bring
them back to the fold. In some instances wayward members
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 37
of the church have been summoned before the session, after
repeated exhortation and entreaty, and in a few instances
names have been dropped from the membership role.
The session has been punctilious in regard to appointing
delegates to attend meetings of Concord Presbytery and the
Synod of North Carolina. Presbytery has many times honor-
ed this church by naming some one of its elders a Commis-
sioner to the General Assembly. It is to be regretted that
the compass of this narrative does not admit of a more com-
plete sketch of each of the elders of the church.
At the close of the pastorate of Rev. S. C. Alexander in
1859, the bench of elders was composed of Alexander Low-
rance, Thos. Todd, James Gibson, John Silliman, and John
K. Graham. Four of these had been members of the congre-
gation from their earliest years, while Mr. Todd had been
received on letter from the church in Concord and Mr. Gra-
ham from the church in Charlotte. Alexander Lowrance was
respected as a veritable patriarch in the church, attaining to
the age of more than four score years, during all of which he
lived very close to his God, and he was held in the highest
esteem by all the people of the community. In his early days
he had worshipped in the second church edifice, located nearer
the churchyard than the present one, had completely outlived
the third edifice, and at his advanced age in 1860 he laid the
cornerstone of the present building. This stone is in the
northwest corner of the church. It contains a glass jar in
which a Bible, a hymnal, a catechism and certain records are
said to have been deposited. It is related by Mr. Jno. K.
Goodman (of Back Creek) and others who were children at
that time and were eye-witnesses of the scene, that Mr. Low-
rance, by reason of his extreme age and infirmities, required
the physical support of two of his fellow elders as he carried
out his part of the programme, making a rarely impressive
The death of Mr. Lowrance occurred in October, 1868,
in the 91st year of his age, having been an elder for more
than fifty-five years.
38 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
Mr. Todd was a well known man in his day. His stout
figure was rarely absent from the sanctuary on the Sabbath,
and in the deliberations of the church "Tommie" Todd could
be depended upon for sound advice. His familiar, strong
hand appears in the records of the session of which he was the
efficient clerk as early as 1844, succeeding Elder John Mc-
Cullough in this office. Mr. Todd kept the records of the
session until the meeting held April 10, 1863, after which his
familiar hand appears no more. His last recorded presence
at meetings of the session was May 22, 1869. The record of
August 13th of the same year, speaks of the session adopting
a "minute of respect and resolutions on the death of Mr.
Thos. Todd," which occurred July 23rd. This minute, re-
corded in the sessional record, like that pertaining to Mr. Low-
rance, speaks in terms indicating that a man, who had served
his day and generation in a very remarkable way, had passed
from earthly scenes, lamented by the entire church and com-
James B. Gibson held the office of ruling elder in Thya-
tira for forty-one years, from time to time presided over con-
gregational meetings, and left behind him the record of a
pure life marked by faithfulness and zeal for things of the
Kingdom. Kind and tactful in manner, he was often dele-
gated by the session to wait upon some erring member and
endeavor to recover such a one from a life of sin or neglect.
The writer vividly recalls from his boyhood memories the
familiar figure of "Uncle Jimmie" Gibson, as he was affec-
tionately called, on horseback as he rode with marked regu-
larity from his home, five miles away on the Salisbury road,
to the house of God. Neither heat of summer nor rough road
nor wintry blast could deter this saintly man when in health
from attendance upon the sanctuary. His erect figure on
horseback, his sharp facial features and his white head, with
eye directly to the front, his kindly greeting to those he passed,
his earnestly attentive posture during the service at church
and the funeral service in 1885, at which all that was earthly
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 39
of this faithful elder was laid to rest, will be to the writer a
memory so long as life shall last.
John Lowrance, son of the venerable Alexander Low-
rance, was a worthy son of a worthy father. He was loyal to
his church and reared a family, all of whom followed his ex-
ample in this respect.
John Silliman was the son of an elder, and an elder him-
self for thirty-six years. He was a man of some diffidence in
public, rather severe in manner, a firm ruler in his own house-
hold, a man of prayer, of irreproachable character, a regular
attendant upon all meetings of the session, served on numerous
committees, was faithful to duty, and was held in high respect
by all in the congregation. His death occurred in 1891.
John Knox Graham, born of Scottish ancestry and bear-
ing the name of Scotland's most famous son, a cousin of Pres-
ident Polk, a member of the first class to enter Davidson Col-
lege, became an elder in 1855, at the age of thirty-five. He
exercised this office for a period of forty years until his death
in 1895. His clear, legible handwriting in his capacity of
Clerk of the Session begins with the record of the meeting
held April 12, 1863, in Civil War days, when he succeeded
Thos. Todd as Clerk. His familiar hand, now become that
of an aged person, occurs for the last time in the sessional rec-
ord of October 6, 1895. For a period of about forty years Mr.
Graham was also Superintendent of the Sunday school. In
the absence of the pastor he often conducted the morning serv-
ice, reading a sermon or giving a talk of his own. Mr. Graham
represented Thyatira or Concord Presbytery at more meetings
of the Courts of the Church than any other elder in the history
of the church. He was versed in Presbyterian Law, informed
as to the work of the Presbyterian Church, and enjoyed as-
sociation with his fellow-presbyters.
As a man and citizen Mr. Graham was a cheerful spirit,
abounding in humor, famous as a "crier of auctions," for
many years a noted justice of the peace, and was known far
and wide in church circles and as an intelligent citizen.
Henry Sechler and his family transferred their member-
40 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
ship from Zion Reformed Church to Thyatira in the fifties,
and they soon became thoroughly identified with the interests
of the church. Mr. Sechler was ordained elder November 10,
1860, this being the earliest existing record of the election and
installation of church officers. He faithfully discharged the
duties of the office until his death in 1875, at an advanced age.
There has probably been no other man in the history of
our church, whose religion and church meant more in his pri-
vate life. For the church and all its interests his prayers as-
cended daily to the throne of grace. He was an exemplary
citizen and neighbor, a good liver, a kind friend — just the
kind of a man to be delegated by the session to wait upon
members of the church who were neglectful of their Christian
duty. Three of Mr. Sechler 's daughters survived him for
many years, their home was noted for its hospitality and the
wholesome Christian spirit that prevailed in it, while they all
three were faithful to the end in their devotion to the church
and its interest. In their home were to be found many valu-
able books pertaining to the history of the Christian Church,
to an understanding of its doctrine, and to the teaching of
God's Word. These three sisters attained to an average age
of more than fourscore years each, all their years being full
of good works.
Major Newberry F. Hall was ordained elder at the same
time with Mr. Sechler, though his term of service was far
longer, continuing until his death in 1889. He was a member
of the committee that supervised the building of the church in
1860. Major Hall was a man of far more than ordinary in-
telligence, and his knowledge and judgment were sought far
and wide by friends and acquaintances. He represented Row-
an County for a time in the General Assembly of North Caro-
lina, just as he often represented his church and Presbytery
at meetings of Courts of the Church. Major Hall reared a
godly family, all of whom are loyal to the church, the sons
being officers in their respective churches today. The record
of the meeting of the session held March 5, 1889, bears testi-
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 41
mony to the useful life of Major Hall, aud to the esteem in
which he was held by his fellow-elders.
Joseph Henderson was ordained elder July 17th, 1864,
in the unsettled times of the Civil War, and held office until
his death in 1871. The first account we have of him was
when he was a deacon. The ordinary conception in those days
of what constituted proper occupations for good citizens was
far different from our views today. Mr. Henderson planned
to establish a distillery on his own premises and engage in that
business. The session of the church had the proper ideas re-
garding occupations befitting a deacon in the church, and dele-
gated Mr. James Gibson who lived in the same vicinity to
wait upon Mr. Henderson and dissuade him from his pur-
pose. At the first visit Mr. Henderson curtly informed Elder
Gibson that what he was doing was no one else 's business. After
a time, however, better counsel prevailed and Mr. Henderson
abandoned his enterprise, and there is evidence that he grew
rapidly in grace, and in the esteem of Christian brethren. Only
three years later his exemplary Christian life and piety were
such as to establish complete confidence on the part of all
who knew him, and he was elected and ordained an elder. It
fell to him in turn to be sent by the session to confer with mem-
bers of the church not walking in paths of rectitude and we can
well believe that his own worthy example proved a decisive in-
fluence in reclaiming those walking in the paths of sin.
Mr. J. Samuel McCubbins was elected to the eldership
along with Mr. A. F. Goodman in July, 1876, and continued
to hold this high office until dismissed to the church in Salis-
bury in 1882. He resided on South Fulton Street in that city
until his death about fifteen years later. Mr. McCubbins was
for years owner of the flour mill now belonging to Elder J.
W. Sloan, and resided in the spacious home with beautifully
kept grounds at the top of the hill above the mill. Dr. and
Mrs. Ramsay lived in the McCubbins house for the first year
or two of their married life. Mr. McCubbins was a member
of the committee that selected Mr. Ramsay. He was a man of
affairs, also a man of kindly, gentle disposition. The records
42 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
testify that he was faithful, and loyal to the interests of the
All the elders mentioned above were men past the age
of forty at the outbreak of the Civil War, and were not avail-
able for military service. The first elder in Thyatira who had
served on the firing line was Alfred F. Goodman, wounded at
Gettysburg. Soldier of his country for a few years, Mr. Good-
man was a soldier of Jesus Christ from early manhood to a
ripe old age. According to his own statement, he was possess-
ed of a fiery temper in his early years and during his mili-
tary life. Tempered by the Grace of God, Mr. Goodman be-
came one of the gentlest and kindest of men, a veritable father
of the church, whose devout life co mm anded the highest rev-
erence, and whose fatherly interest and sympathy won the
hearts, especially of the boys and young men of the church
and community. He was a man who ordered well his own
household, and whose prayers for his family, his church, and
his neighbors were directed daily to the throne of grace. Mr.
Goodman had served on committees of the church, notably in
negotiating with Back Creek with reference to being grouped
with Thyatira in securing a pastor in the person of Mr. Ram-
say, before he was elected elder in 1876. Mr. Goodman long
outlived all others who were on the elder 's bench when he was
ordained, and was long respected as the senior elder, until his
death in 1916.
He was a man who enjoyed good preaching, and knew it
when he heard it. He often represented Thyatira at meet-
ings of Church Courts, and had a personal acquaintance with
practically all the elders of Concord Presbytery, and enjoyed
the friendship of a large number of ministers. He liked to
speak of the sermons he had heard preached by various minis-
ters, and retained well the principal thought. Whenever there
was sickness in the congregation, Mr. Goodman showed by his
example the duty and privilege of the elder in visiting the sick
and the sorrowful. The writer, from his earliest days as a
school boy, found a welcome in the Goodman home where he
often spent the night with the boys of the family. Those visits
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 43
back in the days of childhood, continued, whenever opportunity
presented itself, as long as Mr. Goodman lived, will be a treas-
ured memory for the writer as long as he lives. One son of
Mr. Goodman was a pastor in Orange and Fayetteville Pres-
byteries until his death, the other two are officers in their re-
spective churches, while the only daughter has long been one
of the loyal members of the old church and an efficient teacher
in the Sunday school.
Mr. Columbus C. Miller was ordained elder in 1885, and
served the church in this capacity for thirteen or more years,
until he and his family removed to Mooresville, where he was
an efficient officer in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian
Church until his death. Mr. Miller belonged to a family that
had been identified with the congregation for several genera-
tions. Many of that family connection have been excellent
singers. Mr. Miller will long be remembered for his excellent
tenor voice which probably surpassed any that have been
heard at Thyatira for a half century, and his contribution to
the music of the church was greatly appreciated for many
years. His voice and his social gifts made many friends for
Mr. Miller, who, as the years went by, became more and more
identified with the interests of the church, and his removal
from the community was greatly regretted by a large circle
The only elder yet to be mentioned, of those who have
been removed by death, is James Franklin Carrigan. He be-
came a deacon in 1871, which office he filled until he was made
an elder in 1892, serving as treasurer of the church the most
of this period. He was an elder until his death in 1904. For
a time he served as superintendent of the Sunday school, and
was clerk of the session, 1897 to 1903. There have been few
men in the history of Thyatira possessed of such accurate and
detailed knowledge of the English Bible. For many years he
taught a large Bible class of which the writer as a boy was a
member. He was a man who believed in listening carefully
to sermons. There was no better judge of the quality of
preaching than Mr. Carrigan, and none who appreciated good
44 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
preaching more than he. Rarely has the judgment of any
other man regarding the affairs of the church been sought and
relied upon so much as the judgment of Mr. Carrigan. His
removal from earthly scenes was a loss severely felt by his as-
sociates who had trusted him for so many years.
John F. Goodman, a worthy son of a worthy father, was
ordained to the eldership in 1902, and served along with his
father until 1910, when he removed with his family to Flat
Rock, near Hendersonville, where he still resides, and is an
honored elder in the local church.
At the present writing the elders' bench comprises five
men who are worthy successors of the long line of godly men
who have preceded them.
Hugh W. Silliman, son and grandson of elders, — bearing
a family name closely identified with the life of the church
for a hundred years, — ordained in the year 1885, just forty
James W. Sloan, ordained in 1891.
E. Scott Miller, ordained in 1902.
Joseph F. Turner, ordained in 1910.
J. Samuel McCorkle, descendant of the early pastor, -or-
dained in 1910.
Twenty-nine elders are mentioned as having served and
passed to their reward, o_r removed to another locality, prior
to 1855, at which date this sketch begins. Those who were in
office in 1855, together with their successors during the seventy
subsequent years, number twenty, making a total of forty-nine
elders in the entire history of Thyatira church, whose names
have been preserved for us, which list is probably complete.
We find in the sessional records no mention of the election
of deacons prior to 1871, though deacons no doubt existed
from the earliest years of the church. In the year just men-
tioned the first name that appears is that of J. Frank Carri-
gan, followed by James K. Parker, John C. Gillespie, and John
L. Graham, elected in 1876, and Rufus Albright and Wilson
A. Lingle elected in 1877. These are the men whom the writer
remembers personally as being the deacons in his early boy-
H 7 £
d h- 1
- 1 "" 2
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 15
hood days. The church desired to have a deacon residing in
each section of the congregation, so far as possible. These
men took up the collection Sunday morning, each using his
own hat for the purpose. They canvassed the congregation to
make up the pastor's salary and to provide for any special
expenditure in connection with the church. This was long
before the era of "the every-member-canvass. " Contributions
to the benevolent causes of the church were made every year,
though such contributions were very meagre. Those were lean
years following the Civil War, there was scarcely any cash m
this part of the country, and there was very little system in
providing for the benevolent causes, though the pastor was
usually faithful in laying the several causes upon the minds
and hearts of the people. During this period Mr. Carrigan was
treasurer of the board of deacons, in which capacity he served
for many years. He was also chairman of the School Com-
mittee to secure the principal of the school and to make finan-
cial and other arrangements for the opening of Thyatira Acad-
emy which opened its doors in the summer of 1884. Mr. Lin-
gle was chairman of the Building Committee which erected
the school buildings, securing all available assistance in the
undertaking. Being something of a carpenter and builder
himself, he gave many days of his own labor to the erection
of the building. It still stands on the church grounds, but
has not been used for school purposes during the past twenty-
five years, though it has served committees and classes of the
church at times during all these years. When the present
manse was erected, Mr. Lingle, who had some skill in han-
dling a trowel, put up the chimneys which are still in use.
In 1882 Columbus A. Sloop was chosen to the diaconate,
followed by S. F. Baker in 1886, J. W. M. Goodman in 1888,
Henry N. Goodnight and J. Chalmers Carrigan in 1892, Geo.
F. Houck and Joseph S. Hall in 1902, Jacob Deal in 1908, and
Robert Albright in 1917.
When J. F. Carrigan was made an elder his successor
as treasurer was S. F. Baker who served a long period until
46 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
1917. Since that date J. S. Harrison has been treasurer of
benevolences, and J. C. Carrigan treasurer of local funds.
The two senior deacons, still in active service, are C. A.
Sloop and S. F. Baker, who have thus far served 43 and 39
years respectively. Their associates are Messrs. Carrigan,
Hall, Houck, Deal, and Albright, seven in all, resident, ac-
cording to custom, in different sections for the congregation.
All the above named deacons, except the seven last, died in
office, with the exception of three. John L. Graham was dis-
missed in 1891 to Unity church. J. F. Carrigan became an
elder in 1892, and J. W. M. Goodman left in 1890 to prepare
himself for the Gospel ministry.
OTHERS FAITHFUL TO THE CHURCH
In all the years gone by, just as is the case at present,
there have been many men among the members of Thyatira,
just as devoted to all the interests of the church as the officers
mentioned above. They are too numerous to mention by name,
and it would not be proper to single out just a few who may
have especially impressed the author of this sketch. But
their names are written in heaven. Their loyalty, devotion,
and spirit of co-operation has made possible the great work
the church has been able to do with the passing years. Still
more numerous have been the godly women to whom the
church and all its interests have been held as dear as life it-
self. The older members of the church can recall many of
them who have passed beyond. To-day the devoted women of
the church are worthy successors of their fathers and mothers
who have preceded them. The oldest members of the church
still recall Aunt Priscilla Gibson who died in the year 1874,
at the ripe old age of 96. Among other women who reached
an advanced age we may mention the following : Mary Cowan,
died in 1890, aged 88 years; Britania Sloan, died 1889, aged
92 years. The four daughters of Elder Henry Sechler, Eliz-
abeth, Amelia, Sarah and Dovey, passing away from earthly
scenes between 1890 and 1920, reached an average age of
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 47
more than 80 years, and all these years were marked by godly
lives full of good works, just as in the case of their pious pa-
rents. Few families in the history of the church ever made
so deep an impression as the Sechler family by reason of their
Christian piety. Elizabeth Lowery died in 1881 at the age
of 82 years, and Elizabeth Lingle in 1884 at the age of 93
years. All these and many others obtained a good report
During the entire period since 1855, just as prior to that
date, the elders of the church have manifested a high sense of
duty and privilege as regards their office, conforming as near-
ly as they have been able to the instructions given by the
Apostle Paul regarding the office of a bishop. As we read
the sessional records, we find the session dealing with members
of the church who have fallen into a great variety of sins, in-
cluding inconsistency, immorality, profanity, drunkeness, for-
gery, playing cards, desecration of the Sabbath, operating
distilleries, etc. The list reminds one of the charges brought
by Paul against members of his beloved church at Philippi,
which was to him after all more nearly a model church than
any other. In most cases it appears that the delinquent mem-
ber was eventually reclaimed and restored to regular standing
after confession and repentance, though in some cases the
names were dropped from the church roll.
It is not known just when the Sunday school was definite-
ly organized at Thyatira. It seems to have been some time
during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. It is
under the control of the session which has chosen the super-
intendents, generally an elder, or one who later became an
elder. After the long superintendency of John K. Graham,
as already mentioned, J. F. Carrigan was chosen as his suc-
cessor for a few years, followed in turn by J. W. Sloan, and
A. F. Goodman. In 1898, E. Scott Miller became the superin-
tendent, and next to Mr. Graham he has held the office longer
48 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
than any one else in the history of the church. Among the
very efficient and faithful teachers in the Sunday school, who
have served through a long period of years are Calvin M.
Varner, J. W. Sloan, Mrs. J. F. Turner, and her sister, Miss
Margaret Parker, along with others that should be mentioned,
if space permitted.
The first organ was introduced in the church about the
year 1887, primarily to aid with the Sunday school music.
Among those who have served as organist for shorter or longer
periods have been the following: Mrs. Kate Lingle Sloan,
Mrs. Nannie Lingle Russell, Mrs. Laura Goodman McCorkle,
Miss Angie Silliman, Mrs. Nannie Sloop Harrison, Miss Helen
Since the days of Mr. Ramsay as pastor, or perhaps an
earlier date, there has been a Ladies' Missionary Society,
holding its meetings at stated intervals, and serving to broaden
the religious interests and deepen the spiritual life of the
women of the church. For several decades this society has
had a notable ingathering, all-day meeting during the Christ-
mas season at the home of some lady of the congregation. All
bring their contributions to missions, their lunch baskets, and
various members of their families, along with occasional guests.
The meeting has its devotional feature, as well as its valuable
social feature, and from time to time some one is invited from
beyond the bounds of the congregation to come and make a
A few years ago the society was transformed into a branch
of the Woman's Auxiliary of the Presbyterian Church, with
seven circles and leaders for the same. Notable among the
women in this work have been Mrs. S. A. Carrigan (Fannie
Silliman) and Mrs. J. C. Carrigan (Nettie Hart), whose re-
cent translation from earthly scenes is still lamented by so
many in the congregation. Among others likewise long de-
voted to this and other branches of the work of the church, and
increasingly efficient in the work may be mentioned Miss Mar-
garet Parker, Mrs. E. D. Brown and various others.
From time to time effort has been made to organize the
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 49
men of the church for effective work. In the days of Mr.
Correll as teacher and Mr. Ramsay as pastor a young men's
prayer-meeting was carried on with varying success. Some-
thing of the kind has been repeated during different pastor-
ates. These prayer-meetings rendered invaluable service in
training the young men of the church to lead in public prayer,
and they no doubt turned the thoughts of more than one young
man to the Gospel ministry.
From time immemorial communion service was held twice
a year, the first Sundays of May and October, though at pres-
ent, three times a year. The pastor usually invited another
minister to come and assist him with the preaching. Among
those thus invited we recall Dr. J. M. Wharey, Dr. William W.
Pharr, Rev. Mr. Harold, Rev. R. S. Arrowood, Dr. W. A.
Wood, and others, who always brought an inspiring gospel
message. Few ministers today can bring home to the hearts
of the young people the story of Jesus and his love more ef-
fectively than Dr. Wharey used to bring it at times to the
young people of Thyatira. There was always preaching on
the previous Friday at eleven, then a service before noon on
Saturday, followed by a basket dinner spread on a long table,
and then another sermon. Sunday the church was nearly al-
ways packed with members of the regular congregation and
visitors who drove even ten or fifteen miles over inferior roads,
in order to be present at the communion service where a splen-
did sermon was always expected. Once every few years the
communion service was featured by singing of a high order,
directed by a professional music teacher, who had been teach-
ing a class in singing one day a week for eight weeks, while
doing the same in five other churches that had co-operated in
getting up singing schools, conducted by such masters as Mr.
Collins and Mr. Freeman of Steele Creek, and others. The
school was usually timed so as to end on Friday or Saturday
before the communion service, and the director would remain
over to take charge of the music Sunday morning, at which
time the choir would sing one or two of the grand anthems they
had been taught.
50 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
In the minutes of the Presbytery of Concord are found
statistical tables pertaining to all the churches. In the year
1889, for example, there were five elders, five deacons, and
207 members. Money was scare and contributions to the benev-
olences were small and uncertain. The pastor's salary was
$450 and free use of the manse, from Thyatira, and $350 from
Back Creek. Along with this went a small plot of land suit-
able for garden. However, the dollar had far greater pur-
chasing power in those times than it has today.
At the present writing the elders number five, the deacons
seven, and the membership 242. The pastor's salary, along
with free use of manse, is $1000 from Thyatira, and $1000
from Back Creek.
In early days, when roads were so precarious, pastoral
visits in the two wide-spread congregations made great de-
mands on the time and strength of the pastor. In those times
the people were satisfied with nothing less than an all-day visit
from the pastor at least once a year, which came to be the
common practice, so far as possible. To-day the good roads in
so many directions, together with the automobile, make it pos-
sible for the pastor to see the members of the congregation
far more frequently, and this has contributed in no small
measure to the growth of the work of the church.
A marked feature of church life has been the greatly
increased interest in and support of the benevolent causes of
the church. The people of Thyatira feel themselves today,
in a sense not previously experienced, a part of the great
Southern Presbyterian Church, co-operating in all the forward
movements of the church. The contributions to the various
causes the past year have been as follows: Foreign Missions,
$606; Assembly's Home Missions, $210; Synod's Home Mis-
sions, $139; Presbytery's Home Missions, $192; Christian Ed-
ucation and Ministerial Relief, $109 ; Sunday School Exten-
sion, $36; Educational Institutions, $190; Bible Cause, $11;
Orphans' Home $541; Current Expenses, etc., $1,448.
On August 27th and 28th, 1915, there was held at Thya-
tira a "Historical Celebration and Home-Coming, " with print-
ed programme. Mr. Grier was pastor of the church at the
HISTORY OF THYAT1RA CHURCH 51
time. He was assisted in making the arrangements by va-
rious committees appointed by the congregation. Many sons
and daughters of the church, whose lot has fallen in other
sections of the State and country, returned for the occasion.
There were preaching services, and addresses short and long,
by the pastor of the church, by previous pastors, by W. L.
and T. W. Lingle, and others. This event took place after
the church had been in existence at least one hundred and
fifty years, perhaps longer. It was but prophetic, as we hope,
of a still longer and larger life for the old church.
SONS AND DAUGHTERS IN CHRISTIAN WORK
The first son of the church since the Civil War to dedi-
cate his life to preaching the gospel was William H. Lingle,
son of Wilson A. and Martha J. Lingle. He took his college
course at Blackburn College in Illinois, whence he entered Mc-
Cormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he gradu-
ated in 1890. That same year he was sent as a missionary of
the Northern Presbyterian Church to China, where he has
labored continuously for thirty-five years.
The next in order was Walter L. Lingle who graduated
at Davidson College and Union Seminary. He has served as
pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Atlanta, Ga., as
Professor in Union Seminary, as Moderator of the General
Assembly, and he is now President of the Assembly's Train-
ing School for Lay Workers, in Richmond, Va., and he has
held the office of President of the Board of Trustees of David-
son College for the past twenty years.
Thomas W. Lingle graduated at Davidson College, the
University of Leipsic, Germany, and at Princeton Seminary.
After serving seven years as Professor in a Presbyterian col-
lege in Brazil, South America, and in Illinois, he has been a
Professor in Davidson College for the past seventeen years.
He edited the Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College, has been
a Commissioner to the General Assembly, and is a delegate
52 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
of the Assembly to the Pan-Presbyterian Alliance meeting in
Cardiff, "Wales, in June, 1925.
James W. M. Goodman, son of an honored elder, gradu-
ated at Davidson College and Union Seminary. He was for
more than twenty-five years an efficient pastor in the Presby-
teries of Orange and Fayetteville, until his death in 1923.
His grave is found beside the graves of his parents in the old
John G. Varner, son of C. M. Varner, who has long been
the efficient Bible teacher in the Sunday school, graduated at
Davidson College and Union Seminary. For twenty-five years
he has been a valuable member of the great Synod of Texas.
He received his honorary degree from Austin College. For
several years he has been President of the Presbyterian Col-
lege of Texas, located at Milford.
James Floyd Menius graduated at Davidson College and
Union Seminary, served as Home Missionary in east Tennes-
see and Western North Carolina, and is now a pastor in the
Presbytery of Fayetteville.
Frank Fisher Baker, son of Samuel F. and Alice Houck
Baker, graduated at Davidson College in 1913 and went im-
mediately as a missionary to Southern Brazil where he has
labored ever since, with the exception of two years spent at
Union Seminary. The Assembly's Secretary of Foreign Mis-
sions speaks of him as having a remarkable mastery of the
Portuguese language, and as a very aggressive Christian
Daniel T. Caldwell graduated at Davidson College and
Union Seminary, and spent a year as a graduate student at
Princeton Seminary. After a ministry of seven years in "Wil-
mington, N. C, during which time he married a daughter of
Thyatira, Cora Belle Sloan, he recently entered upon the pas-
torate of the Second Presbyterian church, of Petersburg, Va.
Ernest Gilmer Clary, son of Lee and Emma Clary, grad-
uated at Davidson College in 1916. After one year of teach-
ing and two years of service in the army — in camp and in
France — he entered Union Seminary in Richmond, Va., where
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 53
he graduated in 1922. He is now the pastor of the Presbyte-
rian church, of Murphy, N. C.
There are several young men who are now in the course
of preparation for the ministry. William Payne Brown, son
of the pastor, graduated at Davidson College, and is now a
student at Union Seminary. Clyde McCubbins, son of Absa-
lom and Bettie Lingle McCubbins, now an elder in the Pres-
byterian church and superintendent of the Sunday school at
Bethesda, Maryland, is under the care of the Presbytery, is
studying theology under the pastor, and expects to enter Un-
ion Seminary the coming session. S. Carey Miller, son of E.
Scott and Lillian Sloop Miller, is under the care of Presby-
tery and is a student at Davidson College.
Geo. Foyle Houck, son of a deacon, is also under the care
of Presbytery, and is a student at Davidson College.
Ella G. Graham, daughter of Elder J. K. Graham, has
been a missionary of our Church in Korea since 1907, where
she has been abundant in labor and zeal for the Master 's work.
Myrtle Lingle McCubbins (now Mrs. Crabb) graduated
at Western College, Oxford, Ohio, and has been a missionary
in China since 1907. She married Rev. Mr. Crabb, a mis-
sionary of the Northern Presbyterian Church.
Elizabeth Corriher, a graduate nurse, has been a mission-
ary in China since 1908. She has rendered most valuable
service in connection with the medical missions of our Church.
Mary Lee Sloan, a niece of the Lingle brothers, also identi-
fied with the work of our medical missions, has been a mis-
sionary in China since 1919.
Of the above named eighteen sons and daughters of Thya-
tira, who have dedicated their lives entirely to some form of
Christian work at home and abroad, all but one are still liv-
ing and zealously devoting their energy and talent to the
work which they have undertaken.
54 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
PRESBYTERY MEETS AT THYATIRA
Thyatira has been host to the Presbytery of Concord on
numerous occasions. In the throes of the Civil War the spring
meeting of Presbytery was held at Thyatira in April, 1863,
just ten years after the last previous meeting held at this
church. The Moderator was Rev. D. A. Penick. In July,
1873, an adjourned meeting was held, with Rev. E. P. Rock-
well in the chair. The special occasion was to investigate cer-
tain charges brought against the pastor, Rev. Mr. Pharr. This
meeting proved to be a notable event long remembered by those
who were present. The regular stated meeting of the same
year was held late in August, with Rev. G. M. Gibbs presid-
ing. An adjourned meeting was held in May, 1877, at which
the presiding officer was Rev. Jethro Rumple, he being the last
Moderator present. The fall meeting of 1884 was held in
September, Rev. A. Walker White in the chair. Numerous
members of the congregation today still recall this as the first
meeting of Presbytery of which they have any recollection,
and some still remember the strong sermon preached on Ro-
mans 8:37, by Rev. C. M. Payne, of Concord. Rev. William
W. Pharr presided at a call meeting held January 5, 1892.
Rev. John Wakefield, a college class-mate of the writer, was
Moderator of the Fall meeting held in September, 1901.
At the fall meeting held in September 27th, 1924, the
opening sermon was preached by a son of the church, the re-
tiring Moderator, W. L. Lingle, while the writer, his brother,
was elected to succeed him.
In all these meetings the members of the congregation ex-
tended the utmost hospitality to the brethren of the Presby-
tery who were their guests, and showed their interest in the
proceedings by the large attendance.
About the year 1890, the pastor, Mr. Ramsay, was em-
ployed by the Presbytery to copy its minutes, making an in-
dex and putting them into suitable form for permanent pres-
ervation. These minutes, written in beautiful form in the
very legible hand of Mr. Ramsay, covering the period from
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 55
1795 to 1892, bound in leather in eight or ten large volumes,
are preserved in the fire-proof vault of the library of David-
son College. With them are also the printed minutes of
Presbytery for the succeeding years. In these minutes are
hundreds of references to Thyatira church. These impressive
volumes, covering a century and a quarter, constitute a very
precious treasure for the future historian of Presbyterianism
in a large section of North Carolina.
RECORDS AND DOCUMENTS
The earliest known document pertaining to the history
of Thyatira is the original deed to the land occupied by the
church. This deed is now deposited for safe keeping in the
fire-proof library of Union Seminary, Richmond, Va. There
are, however, photographic copies of this deed in the hands of:
several members of the congregation. The deed conveys the
title to the land to "The Trustees of Cathey 's Meeting House,"
the name of the place of worship at that time, January 1st,
1753. George II. was then King of England, and the docu-
ment bears the royal seal. The language and phraseology of
the deed is legalistic and involved to a degree scarcely known
today, in legal parlance.
Foote's Sketches of North Carolina have a great deal to
say about the early history of Thyatira, though what this
work says is for the most part embodied in the historical
sketch of Thyatira prepared by Rev. S. C. Alexander in 1855.
This sketch was prepared by young Mr. Alexander, and deliv-
ered by him at the celebration of the Centennial of the church.
It is commonly known as "The History of Thyatira," though
it is given up mostly to a brief sketch of the pastors and eld-
ers of the church.
Rumple 's "History of Rowan County," also gives valu-
able data pertaining to the church.
The earliest volume purporting to contain sessional rec-
ords was secured by Capt. John McCullough. He made the
first entry of minutes in his own hand, and signs himself as
56 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
Clerk of the Session. The date of the first entry is August
31, 1831, though the record of baptisms begins with April
25, 1826. This volume contains a list of communicants as of
1831 and following years. Beginning with 1844, during the
pastorate of Rev. James Hall, there seems to have been some
persistent effort to keep the records of the meetings of the
session, which meetings give evidence of being held very irreg-
ularly as regards both time and manner. The records are iu
the familiar hand of Thomas Todd, clerk from this date to the
end of the first volume, in 1856. The same clerk continued
in office until April 10, 1863. He started the second voluu
of minutes in 1856, introducing at the beginning the Alexander
historical address, followed by a list of the members of the
The clerk's pen was taken up April 12th, 1863, by Elder
John Knox Graham, who kept the records for thirty-two years,
making his final entry April 12, 1895. Elder J. W. Sloan fol-
lowed Mr. Graham as clerk for two years (1895-7) when he was
succeeded in turn by Elder J. F. Carrigan for a period of six
years (1897-1903). At the end of this time the clerk's pen
reverted to Elder Sloan, whose clear, legible hand-writing con-
tinues to the end of Volume II. (1907), and far down into
Volume III., to the present hour. His period of service as
clerk has already been longer than that of any of his prede-
cessors except Mr. Graham.
There is still a persistent tradition in the congregation
to the effect that a fire which destroyed the residence of the
first Elder Silliman also destroyed such sessional records as
existed at that time. This, however, seems to be a mistake.
It is expressly stated by Thomas Todd in Volume I., that no
regular sessional records had ever been kept prior to his day.
We have no evidence that any documents of special importance
were destroyed by the fire.
The student of the records will be interested in various
resolutions of respect prepared in memory of some honored
member of the session who was called from earthly scenes.
The first official approval of the sessional records was
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 57
given by the Presbytery of Concord in session at Bethpage
church, April 8, 1847.
The present handsome brick edifice, erected in 1860, as
previously stated, is the fourth building in which the congre-
gation has worshipped. The west gallery was intended for
slaves who were members of the church, and for other persons
of the same race. After the Civil War colored people con-
tinued to worship here for twenty years or more. The writer
recalls vividly the attendance of colored people at every
preaching service. Today the colored people have their own
churches and no longer worship in churches with the white
There was a large, tall window to the rear of the pulpit,
hung with handsome drapery curtains which were a striking
feature of the interior of the church. About the year 1880,
the place where the window had been for twenty years was
bricked in and made a portion of the wall, though the outline
of the window can still be discerned.
The original steeple reached an altitude of 110 feet from
the ground. In school days in the eighties we often vied with
each other in throwing a ball to the top of the steeple. About
the year 1892 the structure of the steeple was condemned as
being unsafe, due to weather, storm, and perhaps lightning.
The entire structure was then taken down, and the present
tower and modest spire with an altitude of about 70 feet re-
placed it. The architectural effect is good, but not as im-
pressive as the original light, graceful spire that gave the lines
a decidedly perpendicular effect, reminding one of the hand-
some Gothic churches of Europe. At the time this change
was made, the windows were for the first time equipped with
green shutters, which are still in use.
There was excavation under the church as erected in I860,
intended for a furance. It is said that a furance was in-
stalled in the early days, but that it was not a success, and
58 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
that it was soon removed. From that time onward the church
was heated in winter by means of two wood-burning stoves
placed, one under the east gallery, the other under the west,
with a pipe running from each to the middle of the church,
where they joined a perpendicular pipe which carried the
smoke upward through the roof, except such smoke as escaped
and filled the church. In the year 1920 the excavation under
the church was enlarged and the present furanee was installed
by a committee of which Elder J. W. Sloan was chairman.
The stoves and pipes were then removed from the interior of
the church, leaving room for more seats for the congregation.
When the present building was erected, apparently about
of hundred yards south of the spot where its predecessor stood,
the old log session house which was connected with the third
church building, or perhaps even the second one, was left
standing. It was located at a distance of about 150 yards or
more to the southwest of the southwest corner of the present
church edifice. This session house disappeared a little before
the school building of the eigthies was erected. A Bible Class
was taught in the old session house for many years.
A burying ground was set apart apparently about the
time preaching service was undertaken near the middle of the
18th century. In early days a stone fence more than waist
high was built around this parcel of ground. There is evi-
dence that originally the cemetery covered only about a third
of its present area. At the end of a period of some three-
quarters of a century, near the year 1825, two sides of the
stone fence were extended southward to their present limits.
The connecting fence running east and west was removed to
the south to connect the extremities of the two long sides, thus
forming the quadrangle remembered so well today by the
older members of the congregation. In the writer's boyhood
days the fence was kept in good repair on all four sides. Not
only did it serve to keep out hogs and cattle that roamed at
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 59
large in those days, but it constituted an impressive enclosure
for this sacred spot. Entrance was through a large iron gate
which stood between pillars at the middle of the south side
fence. Through this portal was borne for many years all that
was mortal of those who had worshipped so often in the church
nearby. The gate and its bearings were made by hand about
the year 1825, in the blacksmith shop of Mr. Billy Cooper, lo-
cated not far from Concordia Lutheran church. Mr. Cooper
was a relative, several generations removed, of Mrs. John Sil-
liman who is now a member of Thyatira church. The material
was Swedish iron which was imported in quanties a hundred
years ago, as it is today, being greatly in demand owing to its
high degree of malleability, in which quality it far surpasses
American iron. This fine material, in the hands of a skilled
craftsman, was transformed on the anvil into a work of art
bearing not the slightest trace of the blacksmith's hammer.
When Rowan County voted in the "stock law" in the
year 1881, farmers were required to confine their stock to
their own land and pasture. From that time onward there
was no danger of injury to graves and stones by cattle and
hogs. This was the signal for the deterioration of the stone
fence. After this date repairs were seldom made when a
portion of the stone fence crumbled, and large sections of it
fell apart. Certain sections of the fence still intact give some
indication of the dignity of the original enclosure. About
the year 1885, the first grave was dug outside the south fence,
followed in rapid succession by others. The consequence was
the eventual removal of all the stone constituting the fence
on the entrance side, together with the handsome gate. The
area of the cemetery has already been extended more than
twenty yards beyond the former location of the fence, and it
will no doubt be further extended southward as necessity
arises. The present area of the cemetery is estimated to be
about three acres.
For forty years the iron gate lay in the leaves or stood
against a hickory tree to the rear of the church, apparently
not greatly appreciated by the congregation. Early this year,
60 HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH
1925, authority was given for it to be taken to Davidson Col-
lege, where it has been set between pillars at the entrance of
a residence belonging to the College, now occupied by Prof.
Frazer Hood. This gate is to remain permanently the prop-
erty of Davidson College, subject only to the condition that
it shall be returned to Thyatira church, in case the church
should at any time in the future make formal request that it
be returned. It has already been extensively admired and
photographed by visitors to the College from many States,
and articles describing it have been written for "The Metal
Age," and other technical magazines. It stands on State
Highway No. 26, on the west side, in front of the fourth house
south of the Davidson Cemetery.
About the year 1910, a committee of which George F.
Houck was chairman, was authorized to remove vines and
other growth from the cemetery, set up stones that had fallen
down, and realign them in various places where it could be
done without removing a stone more than a few feet from the
grave it was intended to mark. The motive was a good one,
but the task a rather difficult one, and a few stones seem not
to have found an appropriate place after the realignment,
and several are now leaning against the stone fence, apart
from the graves they marked so long.
In the oldest part of the cemetery there are hundreds of
graves no longer marked, if indeed they ever were. Head-
stones of soapstone are still intact, but inscriptions on inferior
qualities of stone are scarcely legible today. The earliest
date ever observed on any of these stones by the writer, is 1757.
Stones bearing a date of twenty-five years later are much more
numerous. Various ones indicate that the deceased were sol-
diers of the American Revolution. Among the most eminent
persons who lie buried here are Dr. Samuel McCorkle, and
the young jurist, Judge Matthew Locke. In the northern and
middle parts of the cemetery are the names of many families
conspicuous in the church in their day, that have entirely dis-
appeared from the community, and in many cases no relatives
of theirs remain in the congregation. A more detailed ac-
HISTORY OF THYATIRA CHURCH 61
count of the older parts of the cemetery will be found publish-
ed in the Davidson College Monthly about 1890, in the form
of a study made by W. L. Lingle while a student at the Col-
South of the center are located the graves of grandpa-
rents, parents, children, and other relatives of most of the
active members of the congregation today. Here in the still-
ness of the forest which surrounds this ancient burying-
ground on all sides is a hallowed spot that will ever be held
as sacred and approached in reverence by all of us who have
loved ones sleeping here beneath the sod, awaiting the res-
The church of Thyatira, through its preachers, its officers
and its members, by reason of their charatcer, their knowledge
of God's Word, their intelligent faith, has caused religion to
be respected by all people. The young of the church, in far
larger measure than most places, have their attention directed
to the Gospel ministry, to mission work at home and abroad,
and to having an active share in the promotion of Christ's
Kingdom wherever their lot may be cast. May the great Head
of the Church so bless and guide his people at Thyatira in all
the years that are to come, that this venerable Church may in
an ever increasing measure stand forth as a fearless, faithful
witness of Jesus Christ!
"I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blest Kedeemer saved
With His own precious blood.
I love Thy church, God!
Her walls before me stand,
Dear as the apple of mine eye,
And graven on Thy hand."
Davidson College, June 6th, 1925.
FEE 3 '8
Duke University Libraries